Philip Neri, Founder of the Oratorians

26 May -- Commemoration
If celebrated as a Lesser Festival, Common of Pastors, page 483

Born in 1515 in Florence, Philip Neri went to Rome when he was eighteen, resolved to give his life to God. He studied hard and led a noticeably austere life and, after a time living the life of a virtual hermit in the Roman catacombs, founded a fraternity to assist pilgrims and the sick. He was ordained in 1551 and he joined a company of priests working in San Girolamo Church, where he soon became a popular confessor and spiritual guide. As many regularly came to the oratory in that church, where he held spiritual conferences, other priests were attracted to his teaching and the Congregation of the Oratory was founded. It finally received papal approval in 1575. Philip was such a popular and revered person in the city that he was treated almost like a living saint, even instructing the Pope to grant absolution to the French monarch, Henry IV, to prevent a political catastrophe. This kind and gentle priest gave his life for the service of others and died on this day in the year 1595.